This year, to celebrate all our fantastic short-listed bloggers, we want to delve deeper into who they really are. What makes them tick? What do they want to be noticed for? What make do they want their blog to leave? Check out what goes on in their daily lives and the story behind the content they share. Over to our favourite Greek food blogger…
Marialena Nikopoulou is a Greek food photographer and healthy food blogger based in London who enjoys developing and photographing recipes featuring seasonal ingredients tends to follow a zero-waste and plastic-free attitude in her kitchen and aims to inspire her audience to do the same. Find Marialena on her blog My Nutri Calendar and on Instagram @mynutricalendar.
If you could share with us who you are and what’s your mission, what would you say?
My name is Marialena and I am a Greek food photographer and healthy food blogger based in London. My blog “My Nutri Calendar” is based on my passion for healthier, heart-warming recipes, presented in a beautiful way through dreamy photography! I share my homemade day-to-day recipes, often with references to my Greek heritage, and I aim to inspire my audience to create their own meals from scratch using pure and fresh seasonal ingredients that will nourish their body and soul and why not to include some of my favourite Greek staples to their diet!
Would you consider yourself more of a blogger or an Instagrammer?
I would say I feel more like a food blogger (and a food photographer, of course!), I like to write about food, capture and share the process of making a recipe but I enjoy sharing my content on Instagram too. Connecting with my audience there through my posts and stories is great; I enjoy the immediate communication and the supportive community one can build on Instagram.
Nothing compares with your own blog, this is where everything starts from. It’s the base ground, your identity, so for as much as I like to spend time on Instagram and connect with my audience I always consider my blog as a priority and I try to update it with new content very often.
How do you choose the content that goes into your accounts?
The content that you will see me posting on my blog and social media is content that really resonates with me, food I truly enjoy, recipes I try and get excited about and want to share with others. I can’t resist Greek food like pies (a great way to reduce food waste, wrap all your leftovers up in a pie), pasta with all the seasonal ingredients and filling breakfasts on slow weekend mornings. I also love homemade naturally sweetened treats or cakes but my heart beats faster for savoury food. So, this is what you will find me posting about the most. The message behind my content is always linked to a more sustainable lifestyle.
What is the process behind each post you produce?
I do a lot of research as to what’s in season, I brainstorm some ideas on what I could make with the seasonal produce, I think I about interesting flavour combinations, then I get what I need on my weekly shopping and I get to the kitchen to test the recipes I got in mind. Most of the times they are successful.
I have always got a notebook handy to keep notes about ingredients and quantities I used. If it’s about a recipe I have already tested I may also film a video in the making for my IGTV and YouTube channel. Then I style the finished dish and I move on to food photography. I usually end up eating my food cold (yes, a food blogger’s life)! Last bit is to sit down and edit my best photos, write the blog post and schedule all bits and bops around it. It’s much more work than someone would think, but the whole process is so fascinating and is totally worth it!
What has been a career highlight so far?
I was featured twice on Thalassea, a Greek free press magazine, with my stories about two Greek islands, Spetses and Paros. Also, a couple of Greek online magazines and blogs have featured my recipes. In addition, two of my recipes have made it to two issues of Thrivemags a few months ago, what an honour!
I had the chance to give my first public talk last Christmas at the HBC Launchpad event about the right mindset to success. Now, I am nominated in the HBC Awards 2019 in the Best Recipe and Food category. I am so excited about it!
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I started blogging I had no idea about this digital world and how things work.
Then I slowly started finding out what being a food blogger really means. I came across the work of amazing creatives and incredibly talented food photographers and I fell in love with food photography. At the same time this kind of let me down. I thought I am not good enough to do what they do. It’s a huge mistake to fall into that comparison and to not let ourselves flourish through hard work and practice. “Everyone must have started somewhere”, I thought, “no one started at the top”. I realized I was only starting out and comparing myself with creatives that had walked a long journey already was a trap I shouldn’t fall into.
I was only at the very start of the path.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the content you are creating helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Whatever diet we follow adding more veggies and fruits to it is always a good idea, so I try to feature all the seasonal produce through beautiful photography in my Greek food. I don’t like food waste, so I often take advantage of any leftovers to make up a meal and I am trying to pass this habit to my audience too. I am also interested in a more sustainable lifestyle in the kitchen and in general and I try to learn and share more about it.
What is the biggest misconception about social media? What was the practice that has helped you with your strategy?
One common misconception is about the numbers, the more (followers), the merrier. We are all on the chase for more followers and we tend to forget the people that we have already there following us. But our responsibility is to serve the people we have with us no matter how many they are. And this is what I try to do. I try to focus on how to better serve my audience without being crazy about the numbers (learn why the quality of your audience is important).
If we can make a positive impact on one person today, another person tomorrow, etc. this alone is a big win. Then that person may influence others around him and it goes like a chain for a collective good. So, it’s better to let our voice be heard and it will do its magic. Numbers aren’t everything.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My family has always been the biggest influence on me. I was raised in a family which made me strongly believe that food can create beautiful memories. The different flavours and textures one can taste, accompanied by long conversations and laughter talk straight to one’s heart. Food allows them to truly connect with others. Greeks are known for their hospitality and their love to cook for others.
Cooking for my friends and family has always been my pleasure. The more people the better! More food, more wonderful smells all around the place, more glasses raised in a toast, more happy faces!
I always enjoy preparing amazing meals, often Greek food, that will bring my guests together around the table. We can all appreciate food’s magic power; a power that allows us to slow down, enjoy little moments in life and truly connect with those around us.
Of course, I couldn’t leave my man out of this! With the same love for good food and he’s always been supportive. He puts up with the mess I often create at home when shooting. He has learned to wait patiently until the food or cake is photographed before he touches it, even if he doesn’t understand much about blogging or Instagram!
What do you think is the most important thing about working on collaborations with other influencers and brands?
For me, it’s not all about monetizing your blog, but to have a passion for what you do. It is important to enjoy what you do and feel it fulfils your mission. It must be aligned with your values, voice and message. So, this is what I consider the most important thing when it comes to collaborations. More about monetizing your brand can be found here.
Who is your ideal collaboration with?
My ideal collaboration would be any brand that respects their customers, has the vision to serve them with passion and shares the same ethos and values with me.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start in the industry now?
Just start out! But be prepared of the hard work ahead, all the ups and downs. Stay focused on your mission and do not give up. It takes courage, effort and persistence to get where you want to be.